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While chatting with bruce I learned about his growing up in Clifton, the village for the Cliffs Mining operation. After listening to his interesting stories, one morning I decided to drive out and investigate the old Cliffs mining location. I hiked the North American trail to the cliffs summit where I found an old cobblestone smokestack, a huge poor-rock pile and the foundation for the major Cliffs mineshaft. From the top of the cliffs, a visitor can view a vast panorama of the entire Keweenaw Peninsula. After my first hiking experiene in the cliffs I developed a spiritual association with this wilderness area.

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During brief moments trekking in the cliffs I felt entirely relaxed and able to explore my writing ideas easier. Musing one day, I decided to create a poet tree on the edge of the cliffs escarpment. From ice out to the first snowfall, I regularly added new things — poems, postcards, photographs, artworks — to keep the poet tree fresh. On one morning hike I found that someone had torched the poet tree. One maintains the experience of nirvikalpa samadhi while simultaneously entering into earthly activities c. At age 14 Sri Chinmoy had already written poems of his own in Bengali.

Teaching himself English, later he would spend much time translating ashram articles from Bengali. In , Chinmoy translated an article from Bengali into English blank verse, written by Nolini Kanta Gupta, the Secretary General of the Ashram, recognised as an intellectual giant. Chinmoy remained at the ashram until , immersed in literary activities and spiritual discipline. He claimed that his early years at the ashram were like revising the book of God-realisation, an experience he had achieved in earlier incarnations.

Responding to an inner command from his Beloved Supreme, or Inner Pilot as he termed his inner communion, he removed to New York to begin his own mission. The culture shock he would have experienced is illustrated by his amusing story of not knowing what to do with a tea bag and hot water on the plane to the U. Ripping the bag open to pour the tea-leaves into the cup, he was left with an undrinkable mess! Exceedingly puzzled by the West at first, nevertheless he began a worldwide mission to teach a spiritual path-of-the-heart for the Western world which grew to span seventy countries.

This spiritual path is significant for the West for many reasons: the importance placed on physical fitness to go hand in hand with the spirituality, a custom of his ashramite days, where he himself was decathlon champion in his youth. Secondly, the notion that this was not an era for removing to a cave to meditate alone, but to bring the fruits of meditation-life into the community. Although these ideas stem from Hinduism, they were not general knowledge in the West. Sri Chinmoy attained the highest experience, God-realisation or Self-realisation he did not distinguish between the two terms at an early age; being the conscious awareness of unity with what he termed his Beloved Supreme.

I started praying and meditating - you can say unconsciously - at the age of four or five. But since the very beginning of my conscious spiritual journey, I have been praying to the Supreme not only for my own perfection in life but also for a oneness-world founded upon inner peace. At this point in my spiritual journey, all my prayers are for others, for the world, for peace. Then again, in the highest sense, there is no separation between myself and "others. He uses the term Supreme often in place of God to denote an ever-transcending consciousness rather than the idea of God at a static level.

Sri Chinmoy then undertook to manifest his own spiritual experience in many and varied fields of endeavour in order to inspire and awaken others. Often untrained, he dauntlessly entered fields of endeavour such as painting, drawing, tennis, ultra-running, weightlifting, writing and lecturing, poetry and music, travelling the world to give free concerts and play his own unique compositions on many different instruments.

When I became a student of Sri Chinmoy, in , he had published around books and pamphlets. The question was how to approach such a huge volume of work? On reading the poetry, certain themes kept recurring to me that suggested the tradition of The Quest: Separation, Trial and Return. The Quest of course is a universal theme in spiritual traditions. This I chose as my approach, to impose some order on the vast amount of work. This paper is an overview of my updated thesis, The Ever-Transcending Quest in the Poetry of Sri Chinmoy, with the later writings of poetry and prose, now published on the web g.

Around age 22, one of the ashramites, Romen Palit, insisted that Chinmoy should write poems in English and taught him English metre one afternoon. Since coming to the West in he wrote mainly in English. However Sri Chinmoy continued to write song-mantras in Bengali for the remainder of his life, some 17, which he put to music h. The four steps of the Quest as I have envisaged it are further divided in smaller stages which cannot be covered at length here, however the major themes are demonstrated in this small sample. To explore the separation from divine consciousness, it is imperative to understand the theory of Oneness of all consciousness, and the involution of the soul from a higher realm into the dense physical world, which begins the individual game.

We are taught that God is Omniscient, Omnipresent and so on, and Sri Chinmoy illustrates that it is through consciousness itself that we are linked with the highest, something that cannot be measured in a physical way. Who is God?

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God is an infinite Consciousness. He is also the self-illumining Light. There is no human being who does not own within himself this infinite Consciousness and this self-illumining Light… God is not something to be obtained from outside. God is that very thing which can be unfolded from within k. Sri Chinmoy often makes the assertion that the universe is consciously or unconsciously evolving into spiritual perfection l , and significantly that it is not only the physical world that evolves, but also the spiritual, the soul that is in evolution as a portion of the Supreme Being manifest on the physical plane of existence.

He gives us the message of the Vedas in a distilled form, interpreting for a modern sensibility. The following poems begin to illustrate the separation from Oneness with God-consciousness with the descent into the physical world. At once they evoke a higher level of conscious awareness and the wondrous cyclical game of life and evolution, as well as the pain of self-forgetfulness. The world becomes a glorious place, perceived as a self-offering of the soul and the flood of light underlying reality.

The following is an abridged extract:. In one lifetime on earth we cannot do everything. If we remain in the world of desire, we will never be able to fulfil ourselves. As a child we have millions of desires, and even when we reach the age of seventy we see that a particular desire has not been fulfilled and we feel miserable… Now our dearest is God. Do you think that God will allow us to remain unfulfilled? He will have us come back again and again to fulfil our desires… If we go through desire, we see that there is an endless procession of desires. But if we go through aspiration, we see the whole, we enter into the whole and eventually we become the whole.

We know that if we can realise God, inside God we will find everything, for everything exists inside God. So eventually we leave the world of desire and enter into the world of aspiration. There are many religions that acknowledge reincarnation. Sri Chinmoy, as both Master and poet is constantly challenging and surprising us. There is often an irresistible logic in parallel statements.

This is a literary device where statements are similar in their construction and persuasive due to repetition. We are led gently and surely to a conclusion that expands our perspective. We glimpse a further step in the evolutionary Game. Light, is operating on two levels, imbuing the grass and buds with patient humility or devotion, whereas the seeker is bereft of the aspiration for enlightenment, a reversal of the natural order. It recalls Walt Whitman, who uses this conceit, the innate humility of grass in his Leaves of Grass u , and extends it into a symbol to explore both the multiplicity and the oneness or unity of the world around him.

In this sample of poetry categorised as the Trial, the seeker is tested and the intricacies of the profound inner relationship and interaction with the Supreme Consciousness is explored. The use of repetition and shifting in tone or point of view, illustrate the darker side of human nature. The dramatic inner battleground is drawn between the highest aspirations and the lowest moods, the loss of faith and despair.

In the following we are confronted with quite shocking ideas — that the mind is a liar, a beggar, set upon bringing about our demise. As we live in an age where the scientific mind is revered as the pinnacle of civilisation, we must rebel.

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An eternal truth is reasserted. The finite, un-illumined, tricky human mind becomes a part of the trial itself. It is an illustration that Sri Chinmoy is drawing an inner canvas of trials, not the outer heroism of legend. To further explain that inner canvas, the following is one example; parallel statements show us the hierarchy, a more complicated nature of the inner self.

Sri Chinmoy challenges us to examine again what it is we identify with deep within us — we can easily identify with the mind, body, heart, even soul, but we now are given an outline of another level — the vital, seat of emotion and desire. These levels of the inner being do have the ability unconsciously to sway us, and mask the voice of our own higher wisdom. Sri Chinmoy explains these inner planes of existence;.

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We are trying to transform the lower worlds into luminous worlds, worlds of perfection, and, at the same time, we are trying to bring the higher worlds into outer manifestation. Some of the higher worlds we already see operating in our physical world, on earth. First comes the physical, then the vital, then the mind, then the plane of intuition or the intuitive mind, then the overmind and the supermind.

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  8. If you know how to observe them, you can see that some of these worlds are already functioning in you. The following lyric presents the spiritual seeker, unable to grasp the object of his search and heading towards despair with a series of rhetorical questions. Their imploring tone trails off wistfully at the close without resolution. The opening image characterises a poignant and ethereal relationship between the lily and the moon — the moon being an expression of the divine animating quality of light, and the lily responding by blossoming with a satisfying smile.

    However, we are left with an impression of helplessness, being at the mercy of capricious dreams.

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    The ultimate expression of the fall into despair is attained in the following poem. Although it speaks indifferently of the loss of faith and direction, the point of view is undercut by the self-irony at the close. The enveloping structure and emotionless phrasing draws us into the undertone of stress to the point of paralysis. And yet when the poet turns back to the secular world of matter and desire, it is found wanting against the wealth of the spiritual life.

    The low pitch and cutting sense of rhythm express an overwhelming sense of loss, a cry from the abyss. In the above, the impotence of the human and the power of the divine are juxtaposed — existential man is refuted when divorced from his own inner divinity.

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    God states it is absurd to think of the two as separate — man is simply a body of lifeless clay without the divine animating force. There are often these oblique references to the laws of karma, reincarnation, and the Cosmic Game. The poem culminates in a reprimand by God and the reader participates in the ensuing transformation, becoming aware of a higher destiny and purpose. Sri Chinmoy again expresses the lowest ebb of the seeker, with the petulance of the child, eyes tightly shut as if to obliterate. The beauty of this intimate inner experience is captured in a few simple words, a palpable, rapturous encounter with God illustrating the omnipresence of the divine like radio-waves.

    The seeker responds with humility and bewilderment. The slow movement of syntax then mimics the re-awakening of spirit, and the resistance is transformed into endearment and mystery at the close. Here the ancient motif that what man seeks is within is reaffirmed. There is a strength and a quiet certitude in the knowledge of the inner wealth waiting to be claimed. The intricate relationship between human aspiration and divine revelation begins to emerge. A quiet power emerges in the next selection, in part due to the formal metre, but also due to the language portraying exalted states of fulfilment and blissful absorption into the Divine Consciousness.

    This poem also implies many of the previous steps — the culmination of a long process of evolution, both personal and universal. It is a paradoxical exchange, as it is She who bestows Her Grace upon the seeker allowing the miracle of surrender. It closes with a moving image of both the personal God and impersonal, the Infinite and Eternal, the ululating sounds echoing and expanding across the Universe. You might think I will say I am the light fish now, but, no, I am not one or the other. I might be the circle of them, as we are all the circles of light and dark shifting and breaking, shaking in the flux.

    Sheep laurel is a plant of flux, springs up after fire. New shoots come from dormant buds on buried rhizomes exposed to the striping flame. The green waits below the surface, and when it returns the tiny kinglet and the tiger swallowtail come, too. Raise their wings above buds now burst.

    The breeze blows lifting leaves and I feel the fish open up their dance. Press closer to each other. Make each other sway. Love and Grief pulsing together pushing me through into the new. Thank you for dropping by the Sanctuary! Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.